France rejects GNH

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Nov 20: France has rejected adopting Gross National Happiness as the instrument to measure development over traditional Gross Domestic Product. 

The head of France’s statistics office Jean-Philippe Cotis dashed hopes Tuesday that a report commissioned by President Nicolas Sarkozy could lead to a new, less-profit focused measure of economic growth.

He said in a press conference in Paris that he has no plans to stop monitoring GDP, and although his agency plans new quality of life studies, it was too early to say how his statistical toolbox should be adapted to take that into account.

“We will keep GDP as an indicator measuring economic activity.  In the middle of macroeconomic crisis, we need an indicator that captures in a rather sophisticated way the fluctuations of market activities,” he said. “It’s too complicated a subject to sum up in a single figure,” Cotis said.

In 2007, Sarkozy commissioned Nobel prize-winning US economist Joseph Stiglitz to give new thought to the way GDP is calculated so that happiness and other quality of life measurements can be included in measurements of French economic growth.

The Stiglitz report, presented to Sarkozy in September, offers a raft of factors that governments should take into account when making policy, such as environmental sustainability, household income, consumption and wealth rather than national production.

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